19 Replies to “Driving in Jamaica – my experience”

  1. Hey, just found your blog as I was looking for info on Jamaica for an upcoming trip – your posts are awesome!

    I'll be there for a week with my sister, are there any must see things on the island that you would recommend? We'll be there for about one week and I would love any advice you have!!

    Thanks!

  2. Excellent post. I'm a Jamaican living in Kingston and this is probably the most comprehensive and accurate account of driving in Jamaica that I've ever read. Enjoy your stay(s) here!

  3. Haha I laughed and agree with EVERYTHING you wrote. It took me 8 years to start driving in Jamaica but once I did, I don't know how I ever survived NOT driving there! It's so amusing and I now drive with a dash-cam all the time just to make sure I capture everything including random goats and cow herds on the road.

    Every picture and video you posted are places I've been – okay there's no place I really haven't been on the island – and your descriptions are so accurate LOL. Right down the the police spot checks.

    Anyway this was a great write up of how it really is. I've even quoted that link to the different honks in one of my blog posts haahaha.

  4. Hi liz i was just woundering if u had to pay cash for your car or vould you put it all on CC?
    Great blog .i usually do scooters to ..love the sun..
    Ty.

  5. In this case I wrote about – Sparks – I paid cash but gave a CC for deposit. When I rented from Island Cruiser and Vernon's I put it all on CC.

    I much prefer a scooter for short rides…they're just FUN – but obviously they aren't practical for long trips…or rain 🙂

    Thanks for the kind words!

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  7. Thank You very much for driving TIPS for Jamaica. Wr are family of 4 renting Hyundai Accent sedan from MontegO bay airprot. Do we need 4WD to drive up Blue Mountain. Is it too steep ? I have driven in a Camry up onto Shenondoah National park in Virginia. Please advise, if I need to take taxi ride or whether rental car is fine ?

  8. You don't need a 4WD to use the "main" roads, but once you go off of them in many cases yes.

    What you may want is someone to drive you who can handle the narrow, curvy, potholed roads that are NOTHING like the Shenandoah National Park roads.

  9. Thank you so much for this detailed description of driving in Jamaica. We're traveling from MoBay to Port Antonio, with a stop in Runaway Bay, this coming Jan. Husband was leery, after all the OMG!! You'd never want to drive in Jamaica!! responses to questions on different fora. But your common sense and ability to lay out the differences, one by one, calmed him down.

    Can't wait–our first trip there. OTOH, we drove through a lot of potholed and narrow places in Ireland, with lorries passing on the right, constantly. No actual mountains to speak of, just 400 year old stone fences disguised as hedgerows. And sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

  10. I don’t get it. How do you love Jamaica THAT MUCH if 1 you don’t spoke pot & 2 you stick out so much (white girl, no?)? I mean people that love the caribe typically fall in love with other islands… Unless they have a love for ganga. So what SPECIFICALLY brought u back so often?

    1. Probably a combination of familiarity/friends (I have been going to JA since the early 1980s and at one point had family living there part of the year). It’s a nice place to travel when you have friends or friends-of-friends to hook up with to see and do things. I’ve actually made a lot of friends over the years through my love for visiting JA, and have visited with them as well. Foreign tourists as well as Jamaicans. Jamaica is a country where it is maybe more helpful than most to have some connections.

      Also JA has beauty and variety – no other island I’ve been to has the variety of land…beaches, mountains large and small, jungles, cactus, big cities and tiny towns. Strong culture, history, music. No language barrier, reasonably inexpensive accommodations (as well as many at high price points when there’s a chance to splurge). Not super hard to get to.

      Just off the top of my head, those are my reasons.

  11. Hi Liz,

    Very nice tutorial on driving in Jamaica. What is nice now is that most of the rental cars are in great condition, relatively new, power everything and most important, at least to me is automatic transmissions instead of standard tranny. Years ago renting a car in Jamaica was quite expensive and as I said the cars were all beat up so positive change in that regard.

    The new toll road highway system allows long distance travel in a relatively short period of time. Off the beaten path is a different story as you said due to narrow roads full of potholes. Four wheel drive is needed to really enjoy some of the rarely visited places like Whitfield Hall at the base of Blue Mountain Peak or other areas in The Blue Mountains where a front wheel drive vehicle might get you there but a 4X4 definitely will. Also in the Mountains a hard rain can mean land / mud slides so renting the proper vehicle for your needs is important. Gas is expensive and sold by the liter ( 4 liters to the gallon) but most vehicles for rent in Jamaica are pretty fuel efficient so the cost of a fill up is reasonable at (depending on the exchange rate) between $3-$4 US for 4 liters.

    As Liz points out if you are in an area where you don’t really need a car you can take local transportation. There is an Island wide bus service called Knutsford Express that has modern Coach buses (Greyhound type) that are very inexpensive and safe.

    If you are a first time visitor to Jamaica it probably isn’t the best idea to rent a car as you will be overwhelmed by everything you experience. As Liz says if you do rent a car do NOT drink booze or smoke Ganja as you will need all your senses. I have seen too many visitors to Jamaica get into accidents, some deadly, by making driving mistakes after indulging.

    Those who do rent a car, have fun, see the island and be safe.

Thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear them!